Q. How will we prove to the government that we have health insurance?
A. Until the income tax forms for next year are available, exactly what people will be required to report is unclear. However, it's likely that "people will be asked for information about coverage and attest to it in the same way they do other information on their [tax] returns," says Judith Solomon, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The health law requires employers and insurers to report information to the IRS about the coverage they provide, and also provide it to individuals. Originally slated to begin in 2014, the reporting requirement was delayed until 2015.
Whether the government will eventually crosscheck the information it receives from employers and insurers against individuals' self-reported coverage claims is unknown, say experts.
But even if that doesn't happen, "you sign your return under penalty of perjury," says Solomon. "You always can be audited and required to show proof" of coverage. "That's the main thing."
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.